Little time today to write, but one thing I’ve been wrestling heavily with is the theme of holding “every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5). This is very powerful and convicting language. The Greek means literally “to lead away.” Paul says that ALL thoughts–not some–must be led away from disobedience and towards obedience and subjugation to Christ. All thoughts? Seriously? How is that even possible? It would almost seem easier to just not think at all or put oneself in a self-induced coma. I seriously don’t know how I can do this. Every day I have hundreds of thoughts both big and small, both profound and insignificant–thoughts about my friends, thoughts about my co-workers, thoughts about my lunch, thoughts about the carpet color, and so on and so forth. Do we really have to hold every thought captive? The more my mind meditates on this, the more insurmountable it seems, but then I think on passages like Deuteronomy 6:5 and 1 Corinthians 10:31 and know what Paul really means. God doesn’t demand just a little bit of my will, He demands all of it. I fall miserably short of this.
The cost to follow Christ in this way is truly great. The stark contrast between the expectations of culture and the expectations of God are so radically opposed. On one corner God desires that my affections be wholly devoted to Him, while culture stands on the other corner with its grand display of distractions. Material possessions can all be deliciously desired, if only I give up my thoughts and affections in pursuit of them. But then my heart is brought low when I read, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit,” (Rom. 8:5) and then I realize that the things of culture are puny and pathetic. God have mercy on me and on His people. How desperately we need His grace for our tiny hearts. But we must not be discouraged, we must press on.
I end with this inspiring quote from J.C. Ryle,
“Think, if you want stirring motives for serving God, what it cost to provide a salvation for your soul. Think how the Son of God left heaven and became Man, suffered on the cross, and lay in the grave, to pay your debt to God, and work out for you a complete redemption. Think of all this and learn that it is no light matter to possess an immortal soul. It is worth while to take some trouble about one’s soul.
Ah, lazy man or woman, is it really come to this, that you will miss heaven for lack of trouble? Are you really determined to make shipwreck for ever, from mere dislike to exertion? Away with the cowardly, unworthy thought. Arise and play the man. Say to yourself, ‘Whatever it may cost, I will, at any rate, strive to enter in at the strait gate.’ Look at the cross of Christ, and take fresh courage. Look forward to death, judgment, and eternity, and be in earnest. It may cost much to be a Christian, but you may be sure it pays.’
Sidenote: I have heard some interpret 1 Cor. 10:5 as referring to Paul’s holding the thoughts of others captive that accuse them. Whether it refers to his thoughts or to others, it means the same, especially in light of other passages like Romans 12:2, for example.